Trainer Sheppard returns to Block House SteeplechasePublished 9:28am Friday, April 22, 2011
Internationally known Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who trained 2010 Block House Steeplechase winner Divine Fortune, will return to the races this year.
Sheppard will bring Bill Pape’s Lead Us Not, the National Steeplechase Association’s reigning claiming champion. Brian Crowley will be in the saddle for Lead Us Not’s first 2011 start.
Sheppard reached a personal milestone when he saddled his 1,000th winner over fences under the National Steeplechase Association rules on Sept. 25, 2010. Arcadius won the Helen Haskell Sampson (Gr.1) Stakes steeplechase at Monmouth Park. The win carried with it a purse of $100,000.
“One thousand means I’ve done something nobody else has done,” Sheppard said. “I knew I was in range, but I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to get there until next year. Thankfully, everything has fallen into place this year, and we’ve gotten a little lucky.”
Luck plays a determining part in the outcome of horse races. Some people make their own luck through talent and hard work. Sheppard, who manages a large stable out of West Grove, Penn. is one of them.
Sheppard followed his landmark 1,000th win with a strong spring season in which he dominated at the Saratoga Race Course, winning four of five jump races.
The National Steeplechase Association trainer and rider has trained seven steeplechase champions, most recently Mixed Up in 2009, and two flat champions, Cafe Prince and Flatterer.
Sheppard was preparing to slow down and trim back his large stable of flat and steeplechase horses and relax a bit more. But three Eclipse Awards in two years, and his successes in 2008 and 2009, were a capital letter hint that the Hall of Fame trainer still had plenty of magic left.
The 2010 racing season was proof positive that Sheppard’s competitive fires were still burning white hot. The 2010 campaign provided him with his 25th leading trainer title by the purses earned and his 24th victory by races won.
Without question Sheppard could have been a successful trainer and rider anywhere in the world, except in his native England. His father, Don Sheppard, was the senior handicapper for The Jockey Club, and as a result his family could not participate in racing as professionals.
With that door closed, Sheppard saddled up in America for his first winner with Haffaday in 1966, owned by Redmond Stewart.
Sheppard’s success has been identified with two owner – Augustin and Bill Pape. Sheppard and Pape, a Long Island auto dealer, have accounted for four champions, including three they bred in partnership. The first champion was Athenian Idol in 1973, and then Martie’s Anger, their first homebred champion. Flatterer, bred by Sheppard and Pape, was steeplechase champion in four consecutive years starting in 1983. Flatterer was one of the finest steeplechase horses of all time and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sheppard’s birthplace is Ashwell, England. He attended a private school in England while growing up there and rode on the polo team.
After his first visit to the United States, he returned to England and tried to become a banker. Obviously that did not take.
Sheppard’s home and stable is located in West Grove, Penn. He is married to former jockey Kathy Montgomery Sheppard.